Monday, March 22, 2004

Syria - a reverse domino?

Matthew Iglesias considers whether recent unrest in Syria has been influenced by Saddam's downfall:

"Before the war, a lot of folks seemed to find the "reverse domino theory" one of the least plausible pro-war arguments. I also thought it was quite plausible. The various Arab states are not totalitarian regimes like, say, North Korea where people don't have access to any information about what's going on. The emergence of a democracy in Iraq strikes me as very likely to spur change for the better at least among its Arab neighbors if not in Iran as well."

But is not overly optimistic:

"I'd also like to know, though, what the Bush administration's Plan A for combatting terrorism is. 1. Invade Iraq, 2. Build democracy, 3. Wait for democracy to spread, 4. Watch terrorism lose its appeal is a reasonable strategy (indeed, I think steps 2-4 are vital, though I doubt that 1 was the best first step toward 2) for the long term, but it would be very silly to think that even under the best of circumstances step 4 is going to arrive any time particularly soon."

This seems to me to be one of the more constructive ways of critiquing Bush's policies. For all the WMD stuff, the underlying argument was to create an environment in the Middle East where democracy could thrive. Some would validly argue that this is too ambitious (like some on the Left) or none of our business (like some on the right). But I haven't heard a convincing argument for an alternative strategy that included the previous status quo of leaving Saddam in power.

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